From philosophy and music to archeology and African studies, seniors involved in the Humanities Scholarship Program (HSP) and honors students from the College of Arts and Sciences shared their projects with an audience of faculty, students, and staff on May 6 at the AD White House.
Twenty of the 36 students who presented are part of the HSP, launched in 2020 at the College of Arts and Sciences and open to students across the university who have a major or minor in the humanities. The program supports independent, interdisciplinary undergraduate research in the humanities and offers a supportive community, a series of organized courses, structured mentorship, special programming, and research opportunities and funding. This is the first group of graduate students who have participated in the program.
“I wanted to combine my interests in information science and data science and archeology and do some kind of computational analysis within archaeology,” said Angel Nugroho ’22, a science major from information and in archeology who presented his work investigating the rise of pseudo-archaeological messages on social media platforms.
Since archeology does not generally lend itself to large quantitative data sets, she chose to focus on the prevalence of pseudo-archaeological information on social media platforms such as Twitter, tracking content that included tags like #Atlantis, #ancientaliens and #ancientastronauts. These posts contain false and misleading photos and information about ancient sites, artifacts and events, as well as conspiracy theories claiming to tell the “true story”.
“Pop culture and pseudoscience are what a lot of people are exposed to when they think about archaeology,” she said. “But these messages limit the past to a single explanation and accuse certain populations of not being responsible for their achievements, attributing it instead to extraterrestrials.”
Nugroho said the Humanities Scholars Program helped her decide to double major in archaeology, she said, and it also gave her the structure to combine her interests, Nugroho said. She’s headed for a job as a technology consultant in DC, but would eventually like to go to graduate school and pursue a degree in digital humanities.
Justin Wang ’22, a student of philosophy and economics, studied philosopher and author David Boonin and his arguments related to restitution to victims, in particular how to properly punish offenders who, because of their wealth, are not as affected by financial penalties.
“As a philosophy major, I learned in class when I read something to deconstruct what the arguments are,” Wang said. “Some of the arguments people make don’t seem very intuitive, but they stand up to scrutiny. In this case, I had an intuitive thought that there’s a bit more to this argument.
Wang said he appreciates the community created through the humanities curriculum.
“I joined the program because I wanted to find a community of like-minded people interested in research in the humanities,” he said.
“It’s so exciting to see the inaugural cohort complete these innovative research projects,” said Durba Ghosh, Professor of History (A&S) and program faculty director. “Students have taken on many challenges over the past two years, and how exciting to see them share their work (in person!) at the Society for the Humanities, Cornell’s hub for humanities research. .”
See the full list of Humanities Scholars presentations here.